It’s already been mentioned all over the Internet (yesterday) that Kyle Forester worked in Crystal Stilts, but I think that’s all you need to know, as nothing on his debut single sounds anything like that band, nor should it. He’s off on his own now, at least for this effort, and pop aficionados should take note. To my ears, this sounds like a stomping Nada Surf hit…Forester even takes on some of the same vocal notes as M. Caws. Still, it’s not power pop, it’s more of barn-storming, and I love it. He’ll be releasing his self-titled debut via Flying Moonlight Records on March 20th.
I’ve long been a fan of Crystal Stilts, so I’m definitely looking forward to what the band brings to the table on their next week. This tune gives us a little bit of a peek, as the band has said this single is a step in a more rocking direction, which is how they’re approaching their next album. I love the deep tone of the vocals, especially when the track takes more of a crooning approach. There’s still hint of the band’s psychedelic roots in some of the guitar work, though the clarity in the song’s structure is pretty surprising. It’s such a great tune, you’ll want to grab it now.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Crystal-Stilts-Delirium-Tremendous.mp3]
Download: Crystal Stilts – Delirium Tremendous [MP3]
Having followed Crystal Stilts since their inception, including their involvement with Cinema Red and Blue, it’s surprising that I hadn’t caught the band live yet. But, Thursday night was going to change that, and my anticipation was riding high, after absorbing more and more of the group’s recent album, Nature Noir.
Read on for my highlights on the night, including photos from Brian Gray.
Having loyally followed Crystal Stilts since their inception, listening to Nature Noir has been sort of a personal issue over the last few weeks. At times, I’m completely in love, seeing some of the group’s best work come to fruition, yet other times, I get stuck in the muddier down-trodden sounds, inevitably giving the album a rest. Is it good? Yes. Is it great? Eh. Decide for yourself.
Each time I go through the first few tracks I’m not sure which side of the road I’ll end up on. “Spirit in Front of Me” has some great moments, with Brad Hargett’s deeply down-trodden vocals winning me over, but there’s this snaking horn that weaves in and out of the tune. And there’s “Star Crawl,” which features this great guitar sound, but there’s no real pace to the song; it sort of staggers in place, even with its nod to psych breakdowns. And then Nature Noir really begins to take off, for me anyways.
“Future Folklore” definitely takes cues from the world’s obsession with psychedelia, though they spin it in their own light, adding a pounding rhythm that really propels the song. Hargett has the perfect voice for this sort of tune, coated in this smoky sensation that lays the band alongside various contemporaries. It’s nestled right up to my favorite tune from the group to date, “Sticks and Stones.” You’ll find a kinder, gentler voice here, playing perfectly in step with this great guitar line that wouldn’t be out-of-place on a number of indiepop releases. If there were 9 more songs just like this, I’d easily proclaim this as my favorite LP of the year.
And there are definitely tunes that have a new feeling to them, though it’s definitely rooted in the sound Crystal Stilts have come to create. On “Worlds Gone Weird” I feel like they’re channeling Calvin Johnson whilst adhering to their own aesthetic. It’s songs like this with Brad’s vocals clearer than they’ve been that definitely make the latter part of Nature Noir worthy of repeated listens. I mean, if you can listen to “Nature Noir” and not find pure enjoyment out of the desert guitar sound juxtaposed with Hargett’s vocals then you’re a better listener than I. Ultimately, it all comes to a close with “Phases Forever,” and despite the overbearing atmospheric hum atop the song, I’ve grown to quite enjoy the tune. There’s an acoustic guitar at work, accompanied by the occasional string arrangement (which is part of that hum!) that really highlights the band’s growth. I feel like this is the perfect statement to wrap up the entirety of this album.
As I reflect upon the countless spins I’ve given Nature Noir, I begin to appreciate more of it than I initially thought. Sure, the first few tracks are probably my least favorite on the latest Crystal Stilts release, but I can’t hide from the fact that you’ll hear some incredible pieces within the confines of this record. I wouldn’t blame a soul if they loved this record, but I’ll have to settle for just liking it.
Our friend Kevin’s probably going to hate the fact that I can’t get over my infatuation with all things Comet Gain related, but what can I say, I’m a sucker for the band. However, this track only features part of the group, as well as members of Crystal Stilts, so that should garner me some hipster cred, right? The track below is from the Butterbean Crypt EP, which was released only in the UK on Fortuna Pop, but it’s still worth hyping one of my favorite songwriters, David Feck. This track here is a lot more aggressive than previous works, and seemingly unites some of the Stilts psych tendencies. Definitely a nice addition to the group’s brief history.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Walkin-To-The-Cemetery.mp3]
Download: Cinema Red and Blue – Walkin’ To The Cemetery [MP3]
Here’s a sweet new jam from Brooklyn based ATH fave indie band Crystal Stilts. The tune is called “Dark Eyes” and appears on the bands upcoming EP Radiant Door due out November 15th on Sacred Bones. Keepin’ it real as usual.[audio: http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Crystal_Stilts_-_Dark_Eyes.mp3]
I’ve known this project was in the works for some time, and I’m super excited to bring you all new tunes from one of my most beloved bands, Comet Gain. You’ll find this new tune, as well as twelve others, on their latest effort, Howl of the Lonely Crowd, which will be released in the US on October 4th by the incredible folks over at What’s Your Rupture. In my mind, this is one of the most under-appreciated bands in the whole world, as they always have infectious tunes. Perhaps the fact that Edwyn Collins from OJ helped produce this record will give the group the extra push it needs to be the next big thing in indie pop. If you love this, and realize you’ve been wrong by ignoring this band for so long, I suggest you go to Whats Your Rupture and order Broken Record Prayers (their last LP) or Cinema Red and Blue (a hot joint featuring Comet Gain and Crystal Stilts members).[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/03-An-Arcade-From-The-Warm-Rain-That-Falls.mp3]
Download: Comet Gain – An Arcade From The Warm Rain That Falls [MP3]
In my opinion, there’s only one festival that would be seriously worth my time this summer, and that’s the Indietracks Festival in Derbyshire this July. Unfortunately, I can’t quite afford the trip, but I can enjoy this great compilation you can grab too put out by Make Do and Mend Records. It’s like the best sampler ever, with 40 jams, some exclusive, from some of the best bands around, including those I’ve admired on there here pages, like Milky Wimpshake, Crystal Stilts, and Math & Physics Club. If you can’t go, head over HERE, and check out the sampler. Don’t forget to donate, as it goes to a good cause! Seriously, it’s 40 incredible pop songs, including the one below![audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/03-Trying-To-Say-I-Love-You.mp3]
Download: Math & Physics Club – Trying To Say I Love You [MP3]
The Seaholm Power Plant played host to psych, prog, indie and noise for three days, we were on hand for two of the three, picking out the best for the ATH faithful. The main stage centering the cavernous interior offered several interesting viewing angles due to the fenced off holes in the floor to the level below. Lighting throughout accentuated the scale of the interior and depth of the catacombs. Stage two was a smaller space set off to the side that remained at human body. Hit the jump for band summaries and pictures from the festival.
While it may be extremely easy to write about Girls Names, based on the fact that they fit right into the musical landscape as it currently stands, it’s almost impossible to get their latest effort out of your head. Being released by Slumberland, Dead to Me displays a band that’s sharpened their knives, ready to go to work crafting infectious pop you can bounce about to while working on pretty much anything that comes your way.
One of the great things about Dead to Me is that you aren’t likely to get bogged down listening to one particular track over and over again, as only two songs go beyond the 3 minute mark. “Lawrence” begins it all with that jagged club dance guitar, but the drums themselves sound as if you’re tapping your toes, not like your normal snare work. And that just takes you right along to another track that gives you a little bit of pep in the step, though “I Could Die” has a much more gritty guitar that hammers throughout those hypnotic melodies. Strikingly, the guitar, at times, has a sunny disposition, which is odd considering the group hails from Belfast, not Cali, but you’ll be glad they’re utilizing such style.
“No More Words” takes a softer approach to the craft of Girls Names, as Neil Brogan’s vocals warmly float over the entire track. It’s not like you’ll find too much different here, but Brogan manages to off-set the pep by slowly drawing out his vocals, which might remind listeners of early work by Tim Cohen. Still, it’s all done in short time, so you’re sort of taking at shot in the dark at finding various textures, that is until you get to the longest track on Dead to Me, “I Lose.” There’s a cloudy coat that barely drapes itself over this song, and the guitar’s are furiously pumping through the track, and you can tell that this isn’t just your ordinary stab at rehashing things that have come before the band. It’s at this point, while noticing the differences, that you can clearly say you see the Girls Names as a fully functioning entity.
There’s likely to be comparisons to band’s like Crystal Stilts, especially after listening to the record’s single “Seance on a Wet Afternoon.” There’s a darkness to the track, and one that likely permeates from the title Dead to Me, but perhaps it’s not fair to lump the band in with anyone else. Brogan clearly has similarities to other dark crooners of the pop cannon, but his performance here makes it’s own mark, often feeling a bit unsteady, but in a heartening manner. Surely by this point, if you’ve made it through all ten tracks as you should have, then you’ll recognize that it’s simply a joy to involve yourself with Girls Names. They’ve worked hard to tighten up the unit, flesh out the sound, and it pays off huge dividends for both the band and listeners alike.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/10_Seánce_on_a_Wet_Afternoon.mp3]
Download: Girls Names – Seance on a Wet Afternoon [MP3]